When Anne Marie Harrison ’80 first started working in the wine industry, she knew very little about wine. “I didn’t even know how to pull a cork out of a bottle,” she laughed. Today, combining her impressive knowledge of wine and marketing, she is the Northeast regional manager at Vintage Wine Estates, representing over 33 brands. Her portfolio reflects wines of all kinds — luxury wines, award-winning wines, everyday wines, inspired classic wines and inventive new vintages that reflect our times. Still, after 30 years of experience, she says modestly, “You never know it all. I am always learning.”
She is, however, far from where she thought she would be. Anne Marie once envisioned herself as an accountant. She drove onto the Iona campus with her father in 1976 and knew right away that Iona was the place for her. She received a full scholarship, joined the cheerleading squad, got a job in the admissions office and took her first accounting course. “I realized immediately that accounting was not for me,” she said. She went into marketing and before graduation, attended an on-campus job fair and was hired by Kellogg’s. Not long afterwards, a headhunter from E&J Gallo Winery sought her out. It was with Gallo that she began to learn the trade that would become her life’s work.
“Every day is an adventure,” Anne Marie likes to say. “I have traveled to beautiful wine country all over the world. I’ve dined in some of the world’s finest restaurants. I’ve met and continue to meet so many wonderful people. And I’m always doing different things. I’ve recently been designing wine bottle labels and I love having the opportunity to be more entrepreneurial.”
As an insider, Anne Marie can spot trends. “Rosé wines are really hot now.” She also sees a move to alternative packaging. “I’ve seen some wines offered in cans. Cans are portable and easy to keep cool, so that’s the benefit for some people. I’ve also seen the use of more boxes. Boxes break down and so are more easily recyclable. But the jury is still out on how popular the alternative packaging will be.”
Does Anne Marie have a favorite wine? “I like rosés in the summer and a nice Cabernet the rest of the year.”
Photo: Anne Marie Harrison with Kevin O’Leary, “Mr. Wonderful” from “Shark Tank.”
ANNE MARIE’S MOTTO
Take the risk.
You should hold a glass of white wine by the stem so the heat of your hand doesn’t raise the temperature of the wine.
– Gooseneck Vineyards
Monks, especially the Cistercians and Benedictines, were some of the best and most innovative winemakers of the Middle Ages, supposedly because they went around tasting the soil to understand how the soil quality differed from place to place.
– FactsLegends.org blog
There is such a thing as fear of wine! It’s called oenophobia.
“Wine is bottled poetry.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson